Microsoft Seeks Buyer Of Razorfish

    June 29, 2009

Microsoft has put its online digital ad agency Razorfish up for sale and has hired Morgan Stanley to help find a potential buyer.

French marketing company Publicis Groupe, which is planning more acquisitions focused in online advertising, is thought to be a possible buyer of Razorfish, according to the Financial Times.

Maurice Levy
Maurice Levy

Microsoft purchased the agency, formerly called Avenue A Razorfish, as part of its $6 billion takeover of aQuantive in 2007.

Analyst estimate the value of Razorfish at $600 million to $700 million, based on sales of about $400 million last year and profit margins of similar businesses of 12 to 13 percent.

Some see owning Razorfish as a conflict of interest with Microsoft Advertising, which sells technology to competing digital agencies.

Razorfish, based in Seattle, is one of the largest digital agencies, with more than 2,000 employees. Its clients include Dell, Disney and McDonalds.

Publicis chief executive, Maurice Levy, said money from a refinancing this month could be used for acquisitions, specifically focused in digital and emerging markets, which are proving more resilient than traditional advertising in the U.S. and Europe.

"There are some opportunities" for acquisitions, Levy said. He declined to comment if Publicis would be interested in acquiring Razorfish.

Other agencies that could be interested in Razorfish include Omnicom and WPP, who are also moving more of their marketing budgets into digital.